heifer international
As we come to the end of an amazing year at Cool Mom Picks, we all have so much to be thankful for–our families, our friends, the fact that we get to do what we love.

And of course, the support of the coolest readers on the planet without whom we couldn’t do what we do here.

When we’re feeling thankful, our hearts and minds turn towards those less fortunate than ourselves. So once again, we asked some of the team here to offer up their favorite charities, in case you’re looking to squeak in a final bit of generosity (and a final tax deduction) today before the clock strikes midnight.

The Nature Conservancy
Each holiday season, I make a donation to the Nature Conservancy, an incredibly effective organization which protects the earth’s most important place. I do it on behalf of my stepfather, the environmentalist; but really, I’m doing it for my children who I hope will grow up in a world where we still have clean water and clean air, and maybe even some songbirds and rainforests and coral reefs too.

As a military spouse, I love supporting charities that help assist
military families, like the VFW Foundation’s Return the Favor. Donations
go to support a variety of programs – everything from helping soldiers
and their kids enjoy popular entertainment events and attractions and
getting deployed and hospitalized soldiers free phone cards, to
providing one-time grants to military families who need extra housing or
medical assistance. What a great way to show our thanks for everything
they do.


fresh air fund
We support the Fresh Air Fund by hosting an inner-city child to
join our family for a week of life in suburbia, complete with a plenty of
time on the swing set and long bike rides on quiet streets. In addition
to getting new host families to sign up for next summer, contributions
help the Fresh Air Fund send New York City kids to one of five camps in
upstate NY and give these kids memories full of s’mores, campfires and
silly camp songs.

It’s sometimes hard for me to get behind a charity when I know that mere
pennies on my dollar actually go to the people in need. I love Heifer International
(above) because they put a face to your donation– and you get to pick if that
face is a duck, a llama, or even a camel. Each donation sends an animal
to a family in need, a gift that keeps on giving and allows them to give
back to the community. A hive of bees or a flock of chicks is also a
great gift for teachers who can only use so many hand-knitted apple
cozies and brooches.

I have to admit, for years I sort of hid or played down my devotion to the Autism Science Foundation,
for fear that others would assume it matters only to me, my kid on the
spectrum, and isn’t important to those who are living life unaffected by
autism. But the prevalence of autism in our children continues to rise,
and at the same time we have supposed experts and celebrities trying to
convince us that vaccines cause autism–they don’t–and the decline in
vaccinations is a whole new health risk to our kids. ASF is helping my
kid and yours, doing solid health research that affects us all.


Oxfam International
is a global relief and development organization that takes on poverty, hunger and injustice in 99 different countries. I love their range of campaigns, from helping communities affected by climate change, to supporting families with gifts of goats and chickens. Moms will particularly like their health and education initiatives around the world.

This year my biggest donation went to The Alzheimer’s Association.
Unfortunately I got to see up close the devastating effects of
Alzheimer’s Disease when my stepfather, who suffered from it, passed
away earlier this year. If my donation gets us closer to curing this
tragic disease it will have been worth every penny.


My mom was an avid animal lover who was devoted to rescuing and
fostering stray pups and cats and finding them great homes. When she
passed away a few years ago, my family took up her cause in a major way.
We love supporting local animal organizations like the Albuquerque Cat Action Team and Utah shelter Best Friends Animal Sanctuary which need and appreciate all the volunteers and dollars they can get.

For more ideas, search our archives under causes and general do-gooding, or check out our staff’s 2009 picks for favorite charities, all of which we all still adore, of course.

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